Atheism / religion · July 7, 2008

Simple diagram of Pascal’s Wager

Blaise Pascal said:

You have two things to lose, the true and the good; and two things to stake, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness; and your nature has two things to shun, error and misery. Your reason is no more shocked in choosing one rather than the other, since you must of necessity choose. This is one point settled. But your happiness? Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate these two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.

So, if we assume that God will reward someone who is “playing it safe” in a gamble, if we assume that God won’t punish someone for faking belief where there is none, and if we assume that God won’t punish people for being too lazy to make an effort to found belief on something more substantial, then we get a decision matrix that Christians say looks something like this:

But Atheists see a very different decision matrix: